There’s lots of blame to go around for the Steelers after their 21-18 loss to the Oakland Raiders Sunday afternoon. For one, the defense looked like they never saw a read option giving up an NFL record 93 yard rushing touchdown by Oakland QB Terrell Pryor on the first play from scrimmage, putting the Steelers in a 7-0 hole.
On Pryor’s TD run, LaMarr Woodley was in no mans land and never stayed home, while safety Ryan Clark was nowhere to be found on the TD. Pryor went untouched.
The Raiders would go up 14-0 in the first quarter after running just nine plays in a nightmarish start for the Steelers. Oakland then led 21-3 at the half.
Giving up 21 first half points most would put the blame on the Steelers defense but this loss falls on the shoulders of the offense and coaching staff.
The defense shut the door in the second half to give the Steelers a chance and created three turnovers in the game. Oakland went 5-14 on third down and Terrell Pryor threw for just 82 yards in the game. Oakland gained just 42 yards in the second half.
The Pryor run was a killer but scoring more than 21 points against a bad Oakland team isn’t too much to ask for is it?
This game was lost by the offense in the first half not the defense.
The Steelers first six offensive drives: 3 plays, 1 yard (punt); 3 plays, 3 yards (punt); 5 plays, 14 yards (punt); 5 plays, 19 yards (Field Goal); 3 plays, 0 yards (punt); 3 plays, 5 yards (punt).
There’s the story of the game right there.
The biggest issue for this Todd Haley run offense is that the Steelers are never aggressive in trying to turn field goals in touchdowns.
Trailing 14-0 in the first quarter, the Steelers got some life when Troy Polamalu intercepted Pryor and the Steelers took over at the Oakland 48. This was a situation where you have to turn the Polamalu interception in points, most notably a touchdown.
The Steelers go just 5 plays for 19 yards and have to settle for a Shaun Suisham 47 yard field goal. Here’s a common knock I hear from evaluators about Haley’s offense is that he puts too much emphasis on “run after catch”, therefore relies way too much on a short passing game. This drive was a perfect example of it as the Steelers had a 3rd and 6 at the Oakland 33 and Roethlisberger throws a 3 yard slant to Emmanuel Sanders who gets just four yards. The ball wasn’t thrown close to the sticks.
The frustrating drive for the Steelers was the final one of the first half where they took over at the Pittsburgh 43 with a 1:00 left and one timeout following a Cortez Allen interception.
On the first play from scrimmage Roethlisberger connects with Emmanuel Sanders for 21 yards, setting the Steelers up with first down at the Oakland 36. The aggressiveness ended there as the Steelers seemed fine to settle for a field goal attempt as Roethlisberger did not attempt one pass near the end zone after having the ball at the Oakland 25 and 16 after short passes to Felix Jones.
This was a critical drive as the Steelers score a touchdown here, they probably come back and win the game. The conservative approach to settle for field goal attempts killed the Steelers in this game and it’s been an issue all season with Haley.
The Steelers made a game out of it in the second half but they weren’t able to muster their first touchdown until mid-way through the fourth quarter (7:34) when Lawrence Timmons forced a fumble setting the Steelers up at Oakland’s 11 yard line. Roethlisberger avoiding the rush, extended the play in vintage Roethlisberger and Emmanuel Sanders found the end zone on a 9 yard score. The Sanders touchdown marked just the Steelers third touchdown in their past 12 quarters. Great numbers in today’s NFL, huh!
Finally with some momentum, what do the Steelers do on their next two drives; A three and out and a Roethlisberger interception.
The Raiders, though, would continue to try to hand the Steelers game and the Steelers D forced another three and out as Pittsburgh took over with 4:22 left and down 21-10. The Steelers put together an impressive drive going 12 plays, 83 yards for a score and a two point conversion to cut the Raiders lead to 21-18. The gaffe on this drive was Ben Roethlisberger wasting the Steelers first timeout after Le’Veon Bell had just got out of bounds to stop the clock. It was a perfect display of how badly coached this offense is in critical situations and how isn’t Roethlisberger aware that a timeout is more important there than losing five yards at that point in time? Just unacceptable there.
The Steelers offense turned the ball over twice, rushed for 1.8 yards per carry, went 4-15 on third down and scored two touchdowns or less for the fifth time in seven games this season.
What the Steelers have shown through seven games is that they aren’t Jacksonville Jaguars bad but they are below average in a lot of areas. At 2-5 it’s officially over for them with New England and Detroit looming on their schedule over the next three games.